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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

When President Trump told "Fox & Friends" that this "whole thing about flipping ... almost ought to be outlawed," he was continuing a long habit of declaring what he thinks laws and the legal system should be, and ignoring what they are.

Why it matters: A White House alumnus told us that the comments about “flipping,” and belittling Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reflect Trump's fundamental belief "in an ethic of loyalty rather than a traditional conception of justice or the rule of law."

  • Rudy Giuliani told the WashPost that Trump "recently asked his lawyers for their advice on the possibility of pardoning Paul Manafort and other aides accused of crimes."

In Trump's fantasy legal system:

  • Trump told Native American leaders during a discussion at the White House about how to exploit energy resources on their land: "The government's different now. ... [W]e're doing things differently here. ... [J]ust do it."
  • During Trump's campaign, he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
  • Trump has privately said he wants the death penalty for drug dealers, and has spoken admiringly of President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal anti-drug campaign in the Philippines.

Trump tweets reflect his parallel legal universe:

  • March 30, 2017: "The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?"
  • June 4, 2018: "The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!"
  • Same day: "I have the absolute right to PARDON myself."
  • June 24, 2018: "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came."
  • Why it matters: "People and actions are judged not according to their merit or correspondence with principles of justice, but instead on the basis of personal faithfulness and allegiance."

Trump wants a top law enforcement  official — his attorney general — to be far more sympathetic to his views on laws and loyalty, a dynamic that also played out again yesterday:

  • Trump, who tweeted earlier this month that Sessions was "scared stiff and Missing in Action," denigrated the job of attorney general — traditionally independent — in yesterday's Fox interview: "You know the only reason I gave him the job? Because I felt loyalty, he was an original supporter."
  • Sessions, after months of cyberbullying by his boss, issued an astonishing brushback: “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations."

The consequences: An article at the top of today's WashPost front page — headline: "President undermining legal system, critics fear" — captures the risk:

  • Critics said "the president’s actions demonstrate his shifting, inconsistent principles when it comes to law enforcement and suggest a dangerous lack of understanding about the criminal justice system that is likely to have repercussions well beyond the White House."
  • "In recent months, Republicans have increasingly lost confidence in the Justice Department and the FBI."

Be smart ... A source close to Trump said: "The expectation of unwavering loyalty is a core operating principle for Trump."

  • "Specifically with regard to the Justice Department, he believes two things: 1. These people work for me. Why should I not expect personal loyalty from the people who work for me? And 2. This is how the world works, so everyone should quit pretending otherwise."
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Go deeper

Jack Dorsey to step down as Twitter CEO

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jack Dorsey will step down as CEO of Twitter, the company announced Monday. He will be succeeded by CTO Parag Agrawal.

The big picture: Dorsey is also the CEO of financial payments company Square, which he co-founded in 2009, and has become a crypto evangelist in recent years.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."